Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Voters turned away? Democrats say new Porter County Epoll books had bugs Tuesday

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Reports of delays and snafus with the new electronic poll book equipment began flowing to the County Voters Registration office as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday when the polls opened for the municipal primary elections.

Porter Town Clerk-Treasurer Carol Pomeroy told the Chesterton Tribune this morning that machines used at Porter Town Hall had trouble getting started in the morning.

“People came in to vote at 6 in the morning and the (poll workers) told them to come back,” Pomeroy said.

Democrat Director for the Voters Registration office Kathy Kozuszek said the poll books in as many as 30 or so of the 51 polling locations were seeing problems with the WiFi routers using an internet connection to send data and there were hangups with connections “all day long.”

“It was a disaster,” Kozuszek said this morning. The part of the county having the most difficulty with the new machines was Portage, she said, where those who turned out to vote left because of delays.

Kozuszek, who felt the process of implementing the e-poll books was rushed by the Election Board, said she expected problems to arise because the equipment vendor Electronic Systems and Software notified her a month ago that the machines still had “bugs” they were trying to fix and were still working on them two days ago.

Positive Feedback

Meanwhile, the Election Board attorney Ethan Lowe said the feedback he received from poll workers after the polling places closed was “mostly positive” and only heard of minor issues, disputing the degree of claims made by Kozuszek and others that voters stood in line as long as 90 minutes Tuesday morning.

“The information we received last night was not consistent with the reports from earlier yesterday,” Lowe said.

Lowe did admit however that “there were some technical-type issues” in the first part of the day but said he believes the problems mainly stemmed from poll workers not having used the poll books before.

“There’s always the human factor you have to consider when you implement new technology,” Lowe said.

Election Board President and Republican representative David Bengs said his board expected there to be “a bit of a learning curve” and purposely attempted changes this election when turnout is frequently lower.

“I never said everything was going to be perfect.”

Bengs said there were poll workers who told him later last night “don’t get rid of” the e-poll books as it made their day easier.

“I’m optimistic that we really can fine-tune this in the fall,” Bengs said.

Both Bengs and Lowe said they did not hear one report that voters were being turned away at any location because of the poll books.

Kozuszek said that because there were no close outcomes in the contested races this primary, that there will not be any need for candidates to request a redo of the election.

 

 

Posted 5/6/2015